Male and female bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) were compared with respect to seasonal variation in hippocampus size and dynamics of spatial behavior during the annual population cycle. The winter decrease in the size of the hippocampus (the brain region involved in the processing of spatial information about the environment) in young autumn-born voles coincided in time with reduction of their home ranges and did not differ significantly between males and females. The growth of the hippocampus in spring, after winter regression, was higher in males (19–28% in different populations) than in females (8–20%) and coincided with an increase in spatial activity, which was also more distinct in males. A significantly greater hippocampus size in males during the breeding period correlated with their higher mobility (reflected in capture rate) and greater size of home ranges. Thus, parallel seasonal modulation of sex-related differences in hippocampus size and spatial behavior was revealed: sexual dimorphism in these characters was insignificant among young voles in autumn; disappeared in winter; manifested itself again, synchronously in both characters, in early spring (with the onset of puberty); and reached a peak in summer.
Russian Journal of Ecology – Springer Journals
Published: May 15, 2013
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